Program Addresses Teacher Shortage in Inner City Schools

Pacific Bell, PG&E Grants Provide Opportunities through Internships

by Kap Stann, UC Berkeley Extension

When Peter Hippard decided to leave corporate America for something more personally rewarding, he looked for a program that could redirect his career while he continued at his current job. What he found was a UC Berkeley Extension teacher training program designed to prepare students to work with inner city children through paid internships as teachers at local schools.

Now in its second year, the Cal Urban Partnership Intern Program offers enrollees a jump start on their new careers by placing them in full-time paid classroom positions with a participating school district, after an intensive summer seminar in which they observe classroom teaching methods while learning sound the-ory and practice.

This was the kind of career change Hippard wanted.

"People like me like to dive right in," says Hippard, a first-year intern at Clarendon School, a Japanese bilingual school in San Francisco. In this program, he points out, "Rather than being in a classroom to learn theory, you get started right away. The program teaches you how to survive, how to put together lesson plans and how to handle the bureaucracy."

Interns continue their Extension studies for two years and attend evening and weekend seminars designed to find solutions to the day-to-day problems that arise from their work at the schools. Interns also receive extensive support from on-site coach teachers, campus supervisors, district workshops and visits to model classrooms. Upon completion, interns earn a California Multiple Subject Teaching

Credential with a Cross-Cultural, Language, and Academic Development emphasis.

Erica Ferguson, a first-year intern in a first and second grade combination class at Peralta School in Oakland, has also found the program helpful for everyday troubleshooting. She has learned helpful tools, such as using dictation to teach reading to a class made up of some fluent readers and some non-readers.

"Even the kids who don't read at all will pick up a few words of a story they've dictated," says Ferguson.

What surprised Sonia Fleishman, a second-year intern at Garfield School in Oakland, was discovering that her credentialled colleagues who had graduated from traditional programs "were struggling just as much as I was." Fleishman, like interns in each participating school, was able to seek guidance from a coach teacher on-site, an integral component of Extension's Cal Urban Partnership Intern Program.

Students enrolled in the program range from those just starting out in their 20s, such as Fleishman, to people in their 50s either re-entering the job market or changing careers. The current group of interns is diverse, including a former lawyer, an architect, a financial manager, a film editor and a performer in children's theater.

Individuals from groups underrepresented among teachers-in elementary school settings this includes males as well as ethnic minorities-are particularly en-couraged to apply to the program. Presently one-quarter of the interns are male and one-quarter are ethnic minorities.

Rosette Costello, principal of Peralta School, speaks for many administrators of schools with majority African-American populations as she says she "applauds any effort to increase minority representation in the classroom."

Two recent grants will aid recruitment of underrepresented candidates by providing funds for scholarships, according to Margaret Wilcox, chair of UC Berkeley Extension's Education Department. The Pacific Bell Foundation last month awarded Extension a grant of $75,000 to provide partial tuition for eight interns over the course of the two-year program. The grant also provides funds to assist with the intern recruitment, along with funds for evaluating the success of the program. Pacific Gas and Electric this month awarded $24,000 to provide partial tuition for four additional interns for the two years.

Eugene Garcia, dean of the Graduate School of Education, is a member of the program's advisory committee and has himself been a guest speaker during the summer session.

He says the program "has challenged us to rethink the way we prepare students."

"We need to seriously consider alternatives to the traditional model. If this is successful, we may launch our own internship program. Our feeling is that if we are working in the teacher education field here in the Bay Area, we need to prepare teachers to respond to the challenges of an urban setting."

Applications for the Cal Urban Partnership Program are accepted once a year. The deadline for the 1998 session is March 1. A description of the program, along with complete listings of education classes, can be found in UC Berkeley Extension's on-line catalog at For application packets and information, phone UC Berkeley Extension at (510) 643-8728.

Cal Urban Partnership Intern Program

Extension's pioneering Cal Urban Partnership Intern Program is designed to meet the need for teachers in urban elementary schools-a need that has skyrocketed in California since Gov. Wilson capped classroom size at 20 pupils. At the same time it offers the kind of support that is needed to retain teachers in schools where the rates of attrition are typically high.

According to Margaret Wilcox, chair of UC Berkekley Extension's Education Department, around half of urban teachers leave the profession within the first several years.

"Four years ago, when we asked local educators what more should we be doing, the answer came back that we needed to better prepare teachers for urban classrooms," says Wilcox.

The resulting Cal Urban Partnership Program begun last year was designed in consultation with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education and launched in partnership with local school districts in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland.


Copyright 1998, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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